Western slander of Article 23 made out of ‘prejudice, defamation, and malicious intention’
Published: Feb 01, 2024 06:58 PM
The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

In response to some misunderstandings and confusion about the Article 23 legislation in Hong Kong, local legal experts and political representatives have made a series of clarifications on the original intention of the legislation, which aims to prevent, stop and punish acts and activities endangering national security and to target only a very small number of criminals while protecting the basic rights of the majority. 

While many countries including the US, the UK and Canada have enacted many laws to safeguard national security in light of their own national security risks and needs, some Western politicians continued badmouthing the Article 23 legislation, which China said was "nothing but sheer double standard." 

UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said at a recent Hong Kong-related event that the Article 23 legislation would "destroy" what made Hong Kong prosperous. The EU also raised "concerns" that this planned legislation may weaken "the city's freedoms," according to media reports. 

The Chinese Embassy in the UK said on Thursday that it firmly opposes the UK politicians' groundless attack on the Article 23 legislation. It is also a pressing task to prevent, curb and punish acts and activities endangering national security, the embassy said. 

The legislation will protect the fundamental well-being of all Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) residents and the interests of global investors in Hong Kong, and better safeguard its long-term stability and security, it noted. 

It was not the first time that some Western countries have criticized national security-related laws in Hong Kong. Countries such as the US and the UK also condemned the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong out of despicable motives. 

Hong Kong announced on Tuesday a public consultation period for the long-awaited Article 23 legislation, which will last until the end of February. The new law, with the proposed title "Safeguarding National Security Ordinance," aims to comprehensively address national security risks and will play a complementary role to the NSL for Hong Kong.

Most of the changes involve refining existing legislation, and there will also be additions of new offenses as needed to align with the specific circumstances in Hong Kong, local officials told a press conference on Tuesday. 

The newly added items include prohibitions on certain activities endangering national security through computer or electronic systems and prohibitions on foreign interference including collaborating with foreign forces to interfere with national or regional affairs by improper means covering elections, legislation, and judicial decisions.

Some misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding the 23 Article include the belief that the law restricts organizations or individuals from engaging in foreign exchanges, which could lead residents to inadvertently breaking the law. Some also think that the law infringes upon various freedoms of Hong Kong residents, scaring away foreign investment and disrupting financial markets. Others raised concerns about the vague definitions of the law, which they believe could be used to "suppress different views." 

These misinterpretations are all prejudice, defamation, and malicious slander, Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"The main reasons for such malicious slander include their desire to see the failure of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong, fear of Hong Kong thriving after addressing its national security shortcomings, and political manipulation of playing the 'Hong Kong card' to win more votes," Chen said. 

The Article 23 legislation does not restrict organizations or individuals from engaging in foreign exchanges. The main principle is that when it involves any actions and activities that may harm national security, they will be subject to reasonable legal restrictions, which is in line with international conventions and standards, Willy Fu, a law professor who is also the director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Dennis Leung Tsz-wing, who also represents the labor sector, was quoted as saying in media reports on Thursday that Article 23 aims to prevent political organizations from using foreign forces to interfere with national sovereignty. 

As long as it does not involve national security issues, free exchanges with foreign organizations are allowed, Leung said. For example, labor unions often engage in discussions with foreign individuals on labor policies, contributing to the development of a global community of human civilization, he said. 

The Article 23 legislation is defined clearly and without ambiguity, Fu said, noting that it explicitly states that maintaining national security shall follow important legal principles such as respecting and safeguarding human rights, and it does not punish speech. 

"While there may be individuals with bad intentions attempting to falsely claim that the legislation has vague definitions, is used to suppress dissent, or incite, the residents of Hong Kong must recognize the true intentions of these individuals who seek to mislead the public," he said.